Three candidates seeking Bonneville County Sheriff vote
IDAHO FALLS — Bonneville County Sheriff Paul Wilde is retiring, now three candidates are competing to take his place.
Mike Dickson of Iona, Timothy K. Downs of Idaho Falls, and Samuel Hulse of Idaho Falls are competing in the May 19 Republican primary. To learn more about their platforms, EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each candidate. Their responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less.
For more information on Mike Dickson, visit his Facebook page.
Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Dickson: I was born and raised in Bonneville County. I graduated from Skyline High School. I’ve always known I wanted to stay in this area, which is where I raised three children who I continue to be proud of. I also have one grandkid. I attended Ricks College where I received an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice. I also attended Weber State University in Ogden, Utah and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Minor in Psychology.
I started my law enforcement career in 1990. I’ve worked for the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office for over 30 years. I’ve worked in numerous divisions, including Patrol, Narcotics Detectives, General Detectives, Backcountry Rescue and Civil Division. I also spent 22 years on the SWAT team as a member and a team leader. I am currently a Firearms Instructor.
During my Narcotic Detective time, I coached my boy’s baseball and football teams while balancing the busy schedule of narcotic investigations.
Downs: I have 34 years of experience in law enforcement the last 25 years serving the residents of Bonneville County as a Local Police Officer. I’m currently the lieutenant over the Professional Standards and Logistics Bureau where I’m responsible for the oversight of department’s recruitment/hiring, training curriculum & budget, equipment acquisition/disposal & budget, Animal Services, and conduct/oversee Internal Affairs Investigations. Previously I was served as a Training Sergeant, Patrol Sergeant, Detective, School Resource Officer, Warrants Officer, and SWAT officer. I retired from the United States Air Force Reserve as a Master Sergeant with 21 years of active duty/reserve service and was a Corrections Officer at the Idaho State Correctional Institution.
I have a Master of Science Management and Leadership from Western Governors University, a Bachelor of Science Human Resources Training and Development from Idaho State University, and an Associate of Applied Science Security Administration from the Community College of the Air Force.
I hold the following certifications: Idaho State Peace Officer Supervisor’s Certificate, High Liability Training Instructor, and Enhanced License to Carry Concealed Weapons Instructor.
I owned operated a roofing business in Bonneville County, was activated during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Hill Air Force Base’s Security Forces active duty training section.
I have three adult children, am an avid outdoor enthusiast, a member of the Idaho Falls Trail Machine Association, a member of the American Motorcyclist Association, and enjoy spending my free time with family/friends, cooking, gardening, and riding motorcycles.
Hulse: I am a fifth-generation Idahoan. My wife Michelle and I have been married for 29 years. We have four sons, three granddaughters and one grandson. I have 27 years of experience as a peace officer in Idaho, 21 of those years with the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office. I have been a Patrol Deputy, Narcotics Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant and have served the last 11 years as the Law Enforcement Captain. I’m also Paul Wilde’s Senior Deputy. I’m a certified trainer and have experience in managing large complex incidents including S.W.A.T. operations, officer-involved shootings, homicides, drownings, floods and fires. I’m directly responsible for an $11 million budget in the Sheriff’s Office. In the past, I have volunteered with the Boy Scouts of America and I currently chair the boards for the Behavioral Health Crisis Center of East Idaho and the Region VII Behavioral Health Board.
What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
Dickson: My proudest accomplishment in my career would be my 10 and a half years as a narcotics detective. I spent many long hours/days working cases to completion. The end result was taking drugs and criminals off the street. I enjoyed knowing that less drugs on the street may have saved a kid from using drugs and becoming addicted.
My proudest accomplishment in my personal life is raising my kids to be hard-working, respectful adults.
Downs: Raising three great children, earning a Master’s Degree, and being selected Leader of the Year by my comrades in arms.
Hulse: The accomplishment that I’m most proud of in my personal life is my family. My wife and I have four amazing sons and we love spending time with them and our grandchildren. In my professional life, I have been able to be part of a team at the Sheriff’s Office that helps protect our community. It has been my honor to serve alongside them and see the effort they put in every day. Not just the stories you see on the news, but the other things the deputies do every day that most people don’t get to see. I count myself lucky to have witnessed their efforts and to have been able to be counted among them and contribute to the success of the Sheriff’s Office. I have had the opportunity to work with community and state partners to develop the first Behavioral Health Crisis Center in Idaho. I have also been involved in the Region VII Crisis Intervention Team that has trained hundreds of law enforcement personnel in crisis de-escalation techniques in Eastern Idaho since 2009. We have a great community and I will do what I can to keep it thriving.
Briefly explain your political platform, and/or legislative goals if you are elected to office.
Dickson: I am pro-second amendment and anti-red flag. I will be fiscally responsible and transparent with taxpayer money (wise spending of taxpayer money ie. needs not wants). I want to start a Family Justice Center for victims of domestic battery, sexual assault and crimes against children. This center will be a place where the victim only has to tell their story one time. It will have law enforcement, prosecutors, mental health workers and counselors to assist victims in recovery and a successful prosecution.
SUPPORT OF THE CONSTITUTION
It is my belief the United States Constitution and Idaho Constitution were created to limit the power of government and not the people. As your sheriff, I will work closely with the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office to ensure we uphold those tenets.
Under my leadership, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office will work closely with Bonneville County Officials, Municipal Government Officials, State Officials, and Local, State, and National Organizations to strengthen current bonds and foster new ones.
RECRUITMENT & RETENTION
I will work tirelessly to make the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office the employer of choice for law enforcement officers, detention officers, and support staff.
I will look at ways to streamline processes and programs for both internal and external stakeholders. An efficient government saves time and cuts cost for employees and constituents alike.
Efficiently and effectively use tax dollars to ensure we can accomplish our mission of preserving the peace.
Hulse: The Office of the Sheriff in ultimately not partisan. We are required to run on a partisan ticket and I am a Republican, but the Sheriff serves all the People. The Sheriff is the highest law enforcement official in their county and is recognized as such by the State Code. The Sheriff answers directly to the People. It is my promise that I will continue in the great tradition of our Sheriffs in Bonneville County by protecting our community, enforcing the law and serving the People.
What are the greatest challenges facing your county?
Dickson: The greatest challenge facing Bonneville County is the rapid growth. A strategic plan must be developed to plan for the future. I will ask the commissioners for a seat at the table for the master plan and be part of the planning. The roads in the county must be improved to accommodate future growth. The roads in the county are the same roads that I drove on when I started in 1990. Retention of deputies is also a big challenge. I will sit down with staff and deputies and determine the causal effect. We can no longer lose the experience of well-trained Deputies.
Downs: With the COVID issue, I would say resources. Much like other law enforcement agencies across the nation, Bonneville County is having a difficult time retaining and recruiting both jail and patrol staff. COVID will most likely cause budget cuts so finding ways to reallocate sources to remain competitive with other agencies will be vital to a successful Sheriff’s Office.
Hulse: Growth is the greatest challenge. It is a good challenge to have compared to the alternatives, but still a challenge. We will have to be innovative in how we spend the money that is appropriated to the Sheriff’s Office by the County Commissioners. Property tax is a growing issue for everyone, so we must find alternative ways to increase revenue. Impact taxes for development and people relocating to the area maybe one way to accomplish this. We will have to improve wages, increasing staff, replacing equipment, maintain our jail and implement improved technology. Above all we must continue to accomplish our mission of serving the community to the best of our ability. The other greatest challenges are the increasing situations related to mental illness and substance abuse. We will need to work as a community to improve our ability to meet these two serious issues that play out in our community every day. Prevention, enforcement, treatment and recovery are all critical. We have resources and organizations that are addressing the need, but the problem will require improved access to resources and continued communication across systems to be successful.
How is your experience better suited to dealing with these unique challenges than your competitors?
Dickson: I have more than 30 years of experience in the Sheriff’s Office. I’ve worked in a variety of positions, and haven’t been out of touch with the community. I’ve been taking calls, writing reports, and interacting with the public on a daily and nightly basis. I know the Sheriff’s Office and how it works. I will have an open-door policy for all Deputies. They are welcome to talk to me about issues in the office and together we will develop a plan to solve the issues. Open communication is the key to success in the Sheriff’s Office.
Downs: I have a broader experience and knowledge base than either of my opponents. I obtained it while serving under numerous administrations, and organizations, locally, nationally, and internationally. I also know what I don’t know and am not afraid to seek the advice of those that do know.
Hulse: I have been working in the Sheriff’s Office administration for the last 13 years, beginning under Sheriff Stommel as a Lieutenant and continuing with Sheriff Wilde as a Captain. I understand the budgeting processes of the County and the unique and emerging challenges that are involved. I can hit the ground running because I already understand the terrain.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?
Dickson: I want to develop a rapport with the neighborhoods, church groups and business people in the community. I want to hear their concerns and work with them to solve them. In developing a plan there will be times that we may have to agree to disagree, that is fine as long as the goal of success is the main focus.
Downs: I don’t police based on politics. I believe protecting individual rights is best accomplished through following the tenets written in both the United States and Idaho Constitutions. Fair, equitable, and just treatment under the law.
Hulse: As the Sheriff, any citizen of Bonneville County can speak directly to me about their concerns. It does not matter what their political views are. I will enforce the law fairly and in coordination with the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office. I will work with other community members to develop solutions and I will be engaged in resolving issues for the citizens of Bonneville County.
How do you plan to improve relationships with other elected officials in your county and with state legislative officials
Dickson: I will always have open and honest conversations with elected officials in the county. I will express an interest with officials that the county is the priority and we need to work together for the betterment of everyone. I also will stay in contact with state legislators, which is important for input on issues that may affect the county.
Downs: I believe dialog, trust, and respect will improve those relations ships. This excerpt was taken from my Ethical Lens Inventory and pretty much sums up how I operate: You define an ethical person as one who fulfills their duties and does the right thing as an autonomous, fully-responsible adult. For you, this is the fullest expression of fairness and justice.
Hulse: I’m known by many of the current elected officials now and I will continue to develop those relationships. We have many elected officials in our area who genuinely care and work hard for the community. I will be honored to continue to work with them to make our community stronger.
What are your views regarding the role of the media in covering your county? How can you best work with local reporters to ensure coverage of the issues?
Dickson: The media plays a vital role in any government organization.
I believe the media can help us solve cases, and I want to work together while being totally transparent. The media is a great tool to get information out to the public in a timely manner. With that being said, there will be times where we won’t be able to give you all the information you may want at the time because it could hurt an active investigation. However, I will get the information out as soon as we can.
I also plan to look at how we currently release information. I would like reporters to feel like they can call me directly, and let some information be handled through our shift sergeants for efficiency.
Downs: I require but one thing from the media, facts. Local reporters are fact finders and deliverers. I see a reporter’s role much like my duty as an Internal Affairs Investigator, we investigate the incident, document the facts, and submit our findings. It is up to the viewing/reading public to draw their conclusions, much like it is the commander’s duty to render judgment.
I know the media can be a very helpful team member because I’ve seen it and I would foster trust between both entities to ensure we can both reap the rewards of friendship.
Hulse: The media is often called the fourth branch of government for a reason. A free press is critically important. The media has a responsibility to be accurate in their reporting and government must be transparent to the media. I will work with the media to make certain that they have the appropriate information to perform their important function for the community. The Sheriff’s Office does that now and I would make sure that relationship continued.